Today’s Gartner blogpost points to some interesting limitations and opportunities surrounding intent data. Let’s start at the beginning by defining what it is.

Simply put, intent data is an indication that an individual or organization is actively interested in purchasing a specific product or service. You may already be familiar with sales triggers. One classic sales trigger is so-called “new move” data. It’s valuable to know when a company moves offices because it is highly likely that the company will likely make lots of new purchases such as office furniture and the like. Think of intent data as a more sophisticated cousin of the sales trigger.

Media companies are in a great position to generate sales intent data, because much intent data is generated by watching what a person reads and does online. If a reader looks at five articles on 3-D printers in a short period of time, those actions can be viewed as indicating an intention to purchase a 3-D printer. Intent data can get a lot more sophisticated than that, but this gives you the general idea.

You might think that if a sales organization has intent data available to it, that’s probably all the data it needs. After all, intent data is like mind-reading: it’s identifying people who are likely to be purchasing a product before they purchase it. What could be better?

Well, as the Gartner blogpost points out, many companies are filtering sales leads based on intent data with something called “fit analysis.” This is an automated attempt to evaluate if the company is a likely buyer. If your company typically sells to larger, multi-office organizations, a fit analysis will filter out smaller, single location companies because they represent lower grade prospects.

Further, the Gartner blogpost notes that companies selling highly specialized products or brand-new technologies often can’t get enough intent-based sales leads or they get leads that are weak because the intent indicators aren’t sufficiently granular. Finally, some sales departments don’t like intent-based sales leads because they identify prospects too early in the sales process. As you can see, sales leads based on intention are still fairly rudimentary, and there is lots of opportunity to refine them.

But what’s most worthy of note is that Gartner believes that most intent-based sales lead data is focused on the technology industry. But there is no reason that it should. Technology sellers just happen to be free-spending early adopters. I have long preached the virtues of what I call “inferential data,” a term that includes both intent and sales trigger data. I firmly believe that many data publishers have opportunities in this area, and if they happen to be part of larger media companies, they are even greater. In fact, data publishers are natural providers of fit analytics as well. If you look at your data creatively and read between the lines you can make some very lucrative connections.